Hillary Clinton Demands Iraq Pullout Start in 90 days

With Barack Obama gaining in the polls and her former position strongly favoring the war in Iraq not working out so well, Hillary Clinton has demanded the start of a pullout in 90 days.

U.S. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, the early front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination, has called for a 90-day deadline to start pulling American troops from Iraq. Clinton, the wife of former President Bill Clinton, has been criticized by some Democrats for supporting authorization of the war in 2002 and for not renouncing her vote as she seeks the U.S. presidency in next year’s election. “Now it’s time to say the redeployment should start in 90 days or the Congress will revoke authorization for this war,” the New York senator said in a video on her campaign Web site, repeating a point included in a bill she introduced on Friday.


Clinton’s bill would cap the number of troops in Iraq at the January 1 level, prior to Bush’s decision to add 21,500 to the approximately 130,000 soldiers already there. The buildup is part of a push to quell growing sectarian violence but comes as opinion polls show the majority of Americans disapprove of Bush’s decision to send more troops. Clinton’s bill would require congressional authorization to exceed her proposed cap on U.S. soldiers in Iraq.

Even if we give her the benefit of the doubt and believe this is now her honest position on the war, it makes no public policy sense. The surge is at least a plan to do something different in hopes of winning the war. Capping the troop levels and starting a slow pullout, on the other hand, is a tacit admission of defeat unaccompanied by decisive action to get troops out of harm’s way.

If you’re going to say the war isn’t worth winning–or simply isn’t winnable–then why wouldn’t you want an immediate and complete withdrawal? Leaving aside that the Democrats simply don’t have anything like the votes to withdraw authorization for the war, wouldn’t that at least be a more responsible position?

Half measures are the worst possible option in fighting a war.

UPDATE: Half measures don’t seem to be helping her politically, either, if the reactions of John Aravosis and Kos are any indication.

FILED UNDER: 2008 Election, Blogosphere, Congress, Iraq War, , , , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Hillary Clinton = John Kerry
    Barack Obama = Howard Dean

    Hillary is getting pushed further to the left than she wanted.

  2. When Kos starts with, “The closer we get to the primaries…”, I can only note that the primaries are still a year away. Apparently, every battle must still be fought to the death, right now!

  3. Chris says:

    Hillary is acting scared. The comparison to Kerry and his flip flopping is very accurate. Unfortunately, there is a lot of time for people to forget her ever changing views.

  4. ken says:

    Changing ones view, opinion, or policy is the right thing to do when situations change.

    Hillary’s problem is that she is defending a mistake. She made a mistake and she should just simply admit to it and move on.

    If she is defending this mistake in order to garner republic votes in the general election she is either being misled by her advisers or she is using poor judgement. The crazies will never support her. She needs to be told that by her advisers or come to that realization herself, now.

    The core of crazies in this country who still support the war on Iraq are not going to make any difference in the general election. They are, or will be irrelevant. So no one should be catering to them in the primaries.

  5. DaveD says:

    “The core of crazies in this country who still support the war on Iraq are not going to make any difference in the general election. They are, or will be irrelevant. So no one should be catering to them in the primaries.”

    Probably true. But I would be willing to bet that any legislator who is perceived to be abandoning the well being of the troops for their own political gain will have problems.

  6. Dave Schuler says:

    Can someone explain to me why it makes sense, from a policy standpoint, to call for a drawdown of troops in 90 days but not next month? Or next week? Or today?

    No snark, please. I’m asking the question sincerely.

  7. G.A.Phillips says:

    The same scumbag traitors who back stabbed our troops in Nam are now in control of congress and back stabbing them again and we have fools like Ken talking about the Iraq war being a mistake, your a mistake Ken, and so are your socialist leaders who by the why have been in violation of section 3.Article 3 of the United States Constitution for the last four years, but the true mistake is that said traitors are not standing trial for their crimes, it only takes two witnesses, some of you typers with legal skill should look into it. Support the war effort!!!!!! P.S.the same traitors just voted to prove my charge of treason, you might start with that, it is now recorded in black-n-white.

  8. jpe says:

    Assuming I read Joyner correctly, I don’t see why the choices have to be framed as either a) leave troops in indefinitely; or b) withdraw immediately. A phased withdraw has benefits that an immediate and total withdrawal wouldn’t (mitigation of damage, logistical convenience, putting pressure on the Iraqi gvt to take seriously the prospect of full withdrawal, etc).

    It seems clear to me that this would politically unhelpful (the Kossacks already hate her; and this could alienate the liberal hawks). That suggests to me that she thinks this is good policy.

  9. Tano says:


    I cant speak for Hillary of course, and I am not addressing any specific proposal, but the general notion of a phased draw-down seems to make obvious sense to me. To such an extent that I really wonder about the sincerity, or common sense of people who keep trying to suggest that the Dems need to advocate immediate total withdrawl or else agree with Bush – with no other position making sense.

    It has been several years now that Bush’s strategy has been “they stand up, we stand down”. Seems like a reasonable approach, but part of the reason it hasnt worked out very well is that they are not standing up, so we dont then stand down. An obvious fix is to simply reverse the order. We stand down, thereby forcing them to stand up.

    It is not just a miliatry strategy. What they really need to do, everybit as importantly as the military effort, is to stand up and embrace the challenge of effecting a political solution. Without that, there is absolutely no hope for peace as far as the eye can see.

    They need to amend the constitution, as was promised to the Sunnis as a condition for their support of the document, they need to come to grips with what the long-term status will be with regards to federalism, and they need to work out a means so that all communities will benefit from the oil revenues. Just to name the most obvious ones.

    Not only have they been overly relying on us to bear the military burden, our open-ended committment has allowed them to put off consideration of all these political efforts.

    Starting a process of leaving now – starting now, but doing so gradually (though not slowly) will give them a chance to move forward with all speed on these fronts. As we draw down, our remaining forces can help in the process, but without the reality of our leaving, the process seems never to get underway.

    No guarantees of course. But it seems indisputable that the status quo is unacceptable and deteriorating. And unless we could surge in a hundred thousand troops or more, for a long time, basically restarting an occupation from scratch, then I dont think this little surge will do much to change the dynamics.

    Whatever you think of this approach, I dont see any justification for claiming that it is not a strategy. Nor do I understand the motivations of those who ignore this approach and simply claim that what the Dems say should somehow force them to advoacte immediate total withdrawl.

  10. Why 90? Why not 89 or 91? Or 88 or 92?

  11. Bryan says:

    HEY check out this new political website. It has tons of political message boards and soon will have news updates.